• Colour Psychology in Design: Illuminating the Emotion Behind Hues

    (2 Votes)

    A school of thought known as colour psychology in design aims at discovering how different colours affect our feelings, actions, and perceptions. It delves further into how humans experience various psychological and emotional responses of myriad colours. The human mind perceives the phantoms of reality and reacts consciously and unconsciously to the environment. Colours affect each one of us through our deepest essence and actions. Throughout history, colour psychology in design has played a vital role in many fields, including science, art, and the design of dramatic scenery. This article will explore the benefits of colour psychology in design, its applications in the context of an old Indian building, and how it evolved into the domain of modern design.

    Colour Psychology in Design
    Inspiration from Theo-van-Doesburg – Architectural composition (Credits: Archdaily)

    What is Colour Psychology?

    How does your room make you feel when you walk in? Do you experience a calmness spreading throughout your body, or do you sense the uncertainty lingering? The choice of colours sets the mood, influencing our well-being. Colour psychology is an intriguing subject for designers as it influences decisions in our mundane lives. The emotional impact of colours varies from person to person and is influenced by culture, environment, and perceptions.

    Showcase of Colours, emotion and application (Credit:

    Colour Theory: The Art of Visual Harmony

    Colour Psychology in Design
    Contrast colours draw the attention (Project: Demodes by Studio Patternmaker)

    In design, colour theory is a versatile tool that allows one to create different mixes of hues and appealing, dreamy designs. For a design to stand out, it needs to strike the right balance and proportions. To achieve colour harmony in design, it is not just a matter of selecting colours but also understanding colour associations and how they work together. Designers need to understand how colours affect people’s minds since the goal of colour theory is not to drive us happy or sad but to positively influence our thoughts and behaviours. Now let’s talk about a few design principles we can use in our daily practices.

    Colour Psychology in Design
    Vivid composition creates visual harmony (Project: Pre-school by Shreesh Design Studio)

    Complementary Harmony

    Colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, like red and green or blue and orange, are used together to create a strong contrast and make each other appear more vivid. This harmony is often used to draw attention to specific elements in a design.

    Analogous Harmony

    Colours next to each other on the colour wheel, such as blue, green, and yellow observed in nature, foster a sense of unity. It provides a smooth transition of colours, soothing the eyes.

    Triadic Harmony

    Three colours equidistant from each other on the colour wheel, like red, blue, and yellow, provide a balance between contrast and variety while maintaining colour balance.

    Colour Value

    Value describes a colour’s brightness or blackness. Designers use variations in value to create contrast and establish a hierarchy in their designs. Lighter values can draw attention, while darker values can create depth.

    Colour Saturation

    Saturation, or intensity, refers to the purity of a colour. Saturated colours are vivid, while desaturated colours are more muted. Designers use saturation to create emphasis or subtlety.

    Balancing Hues with Proportionate Precision

    The use of colour proportions establishes hierarchy and guides the user’s eye. The dominant colour frames the design and sets the tone, while secondary and accent colours draw attention to specific elements or information. A design with a cool colour palette creates a calming and peaceful atmosphere, while a design with vibrant, contrasting colours can convey energy and excitement.

    Colour Psychology in Design
    Pastel tones for soothing experience (Project: Pre-school by Shreesh Design Studio)

    Use of 60-30-10 Rule

    This is a popular guideline in design that suggests allocating proportions of 60%, 30%, and 10% for the main, secondary, and accent colours. For example, if your dominant colour is blue, the secondary colour might be a complementary colour like orange, and the accent colour could be a contrasting colour like yellow.

    Balance Warm and Cool Colours

    The appropriate proportions of combining warm and cool colours can create wonders. Warm colours tend to advance and grab attention, while cool colours recede and create a calming effect.

    Consider Visual Weight

    Different colours can have varying visual weights. Bright and saturated colours tend to have more visual weight than muted or desaturated colours. One can balance colour proportions by adjusting the amount of colour used and its placement in the design.

    Use Neutrals

    To harmonise and establish connections between warm and cool hues, use neutral hues like beige, white, and grey. In addition to creating a feeling of tranquillity and refinement, neutrals can act as a link between the two colour groupings.

    Shaping Spaces: Colour Psychology for Modern Interiors

    Composition of shades and mixes of colour in modern interior (Project: The Earthen House by Studio Dezeinmatics)

    Though the use of colour psychology acts as an aesthetic decision for the designers, it has its origins in the emotional and cognitive responses of the users. Understanding the psychology of colours can help designers create fewer errors. These are a few instances of how contemporary design has changed to take into account colour psychology, which interprets the tale of well-being and gives users a profound experience.

    Colour Psychology in Design
    Contemporary spaces with modern interiors (Credits: Cloudera Blog)

    Designing with colours

    • Serene and Peaceful Spaces: Meditation and private spaces enjoy the application of delicate colours, such as pastel greens and blues, to create a serene environment.
    • Tranquil: Warm, calming hues like earthy shades and delicate shades of grey aid in creating a calm ambience in living areas and bedrooms.
    • Dynamic Spaces: Bright colours like red and yellow add a sense of vigour and zest to spaces like home gyms or games rooms.
    • Creativity: To promote focus and productivity, cool blues and greens are used in workstations and private offices.

    Emphasizing Architectural qualities

    Distinctive architectural features painted with vibrant or contrasting colours draw attention and highlight the unique features of a space.

    Furniture and Lighting

    Colour psychology extends beyond wall hues. selected furniture, accessories, and decor all merge to follow the colour scheme. Two crucial factors in interior design are the colour of the lighting fixtures and the type of light. The appearance and feel of colours and the ambience of light in a room influence the user’s mood and behaviour.

    Psychological Well-being

    An increasing number of interior designers are focused on creating spaces that promote mental health and well-being. Spaces focus on the notions of calmness and tranquility, resulting in stress reduction and relaxation.

    Cultural Sensitivity

    Nowadays, with the world becoming more interconnected, designers take the clients’ cultural origins and sensitivities into account when creating friendly and illuminating spaces.

    The complexity of preferences and sensitivity of the user evolve into guidelines for the designers in achieving harmonious spaces through understanding the colour psychology of design. The strategic use of various colours and combinations of them builds balance in the design. Each colour in the spectrum makes us feel a certain positive and negative expression. But it’s important to comprehend colour psychology and its importance in design because we spend so much time in our homes, and the ambience we create there has a huge influence on our everyday mood and lifestyle. It also impacts individuals who come into our dwelling—it can be a place of welcome or a place that is cold or chaotic. What does your home say about you? Are you surrounded by the realm of colour psychology in design?

    Content writing and research by Ar. Priyanshi Shah

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